HARTFORD, Conn.—“I believe that we will win!” chanted several hundred people in response to Pastor A.J. Johnson’s call to action at the “Resisting Inequality Teach-In” April 4 in Hartford. The teach-in and vigil honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King was hosted by faith, labor, racial and economic justice allies, including the DUE Justice Coalition and the Fight for $15.
Quoting King that an injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere, Johnson focused the event at Shiloh Baptist Church on the interconnection of racial justice, immigration justice, healthcare as a human right and economic justice.
“We are facing a moral crisis in Connecticut, which has the fifth largest income inequality in the country,” he said. “When will enough be enough?”
Held on the 49th anniversary of King’s assassination, the event included remarks and workshops and ended with a candlelight march and vigil at a local clinic, Community Health Services (CHS).
“We are here in unity with workers fighting for better wages,” said Josh Hall. The vigil was also held in solidarity with AFT Local 5151 medical and dental assistants fighting for $15 an hour and nurses and doctors resisting shortened patient visit times.
Hall, vice president of the Hartford Federation of Teachers, is the Working Families Party candidate in an April 25 special election for State Representative.
Speaking at the teach-in Tom Swan, director of Connecticut Citizens Action Group, recalled when Dr. King said, “of all forms of inequality, inequality in health care is the most shocking and most inhumane.” Speaking of the Republican attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act Swan added, “we must resist and persist,” to bend the arc of history toward justice.
The theme of unity dominated the teach-in. Bishop Dr. John Selders who led the racial justice workshop called for unity among the different movements resisting the Trump administration. Selders warned the crowd against allowing itself to be divided at this crucial time.
“Economic justice is racial justice and racial justice is economic justice,” said Carlos Moreno, representing the Working Families Party. “We all need to support each other’s movements.”
Angel, a Hartford fast food worker, explained that for the first time he decided to speak publicly about the injustice of being paid $10.25/hour despite having worked years on the job.
The event was included as one of over two dozen “Fight Racism, Raise Pay” actions across the country. Thousands of workers fighting for $15/hour and union rights joined together with racial justice activists in the Movement for Black Lives, marking the 50th anniversary of King’s historic “Time to Break Silence” speech which connected the struggles against racism, militarism and poverty.
Meanwhile, the resistance continues in Connecticut. On April 18, a tax day rally for budget justice will be held at the Federal Court House in Hartford, followed by a march to the state capitol.